C LIT 360 B: Topics in Ancient and Medieval Literature

Spring 2024
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm / SMI 305
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
GLITS 311 C , CLAS 428 A
Michael Ritter
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


Professor Michael Ritter

T Th 10:30-12:20 pm, SMI 305

Office: Denny Hall, Classics Meeting Room (immediately next to the seminar room) 

Office Hours:  Tuesdays 12:30-1:30 pm or by appointment; also available via Zoom. Email is preferred for logistical matters and in person is preferred for course content questions.

email: mritte@uw.edu

Course on Canvas (canvas.uw.edu): Posted here (at the start of and updated throughout the quarter) you will find: the course syllabus, the weekly assignments along with either pdfs of or links to various readings.

Required texts:

  • Christenson, David, trans. 2010. Roman Comedy—Five Plays by Plautus and Terence, Focus Classical Library.
  • Green, Peter. Sixteen Satires. 1999. Penguin Classics.

*Readings drawn from various primary (=ancient authors) and secondary sources will be supplied (links will be provided on Canvas as needed). This list is provisional and subject to change and emendation! You will get the most out of each class meeting if you have done the assigned week’s reading prior to the class meetings in which we cover it.


Course Description

This course investigates the nature of Roman satire and comedy, asking what constitutes humor in this ancient context. We will read select comedies of Plautus and Terence, a selection from Cicero, the preeminent Republican orator, as well as the Satires of Juvenal. Through these readings, we will inquire how Roman humor addresses social anxieties and fears concerning the authority of the paterfamilias in father-son relationships, the subjection of slaves within society and familial dynamics, as well as the (male) concerns about womens’ roles within society.


Course Assignments

I am committed to making this course as generative and supportive of a space as possible. If you have problems keeping up with weekly activities, please let me know as soon as possible, so I can determine how best to support you. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns or if you want to strategize about your individual situation. 

All students begin the class with 400 points (equivalent to a 4.0). Failure to complete or fully engage with the assignments will result in the loss of points. Your total points for the class will be used to round out your grade point. If, for example, a student ends up with 385 points in the class, they would receive a 3.9. If another student ends up with 284 points in the class, they would receive a 2.8.

In order for this class to be successful and meaningful for you, please a) make a concerted effort to keep up with, take notes on, and understand the readings, and b) be prepared to ask questions and engage fully through posted discussions. Each week students will have a variety of materials to engage with and one-two assignments due.


Weekly Materials

Students are asked to engage with the materials posted in the module every week. The class is designed as a shared learning space and thus all materials will be shared through the week's discussion board. Students are encouraged to read each other's discussion postings and respond with questions and comments.


Discussions (213 points)

Students will be asked to attend class twice weekly, where they will be expected to actively engage in the lecture and discussion. Students will have 1 excused week's worth of materials for the quarter, but if they complete all materials they will receive extra credit for the additional questions and/or take-aways they complete. 

Discussion Questions (8x12=96 points needed, 108 possible)

Students are asked to post to Canvas one or more discussion questions that connect at least 2 materials assigned for that week, including any lecture materials and any videos from the Tuesday of that week, as well as the T/Th readings for the week. They should be generative questions with specific citations to bolster your points that might help open up productive conversation in class. These postings must be completed by noon of the Monday for each week to allow me to incorporate questions into class discussion for Tuesday’s class.

Discussion Takeaways (9x13=117 points needed, 130 possible)

By the end of the day on Thursdays, students are asked to write up their key takeaways from both classes for that week and post it in the assignment for that week on the discussion board (this may be as one post or two for each of the class periods). These are expected to be short summaries (1-3 sentences per class) of key points made by yourself or others, for a total of 2-6 sentences per weekly assignment. If students cannot attend class in person, they will instead write a 350-450 word essay on one of the topic questions for that week (email professor for topic). If a student must miss both classes, they should do two essays.


Class Presentation (77 points)

Each Thursday class, a group of students will offer a roughly 15 minute presentation that connects an assigned reading to the topics/themes for that week. Students may find relevant media/audio clips, or background information about the context, but must focus on their assigned article (available via a Google Doc under “Modules” in Week 2). Each group will present the thesis of the article and explore its ramifications for our reading /interpretation of the text.

Students must sign up by the beginning of class on 4.2. Students will be graded on the length of the presentation, the quality of their visual presentation, its ability to engage students, and its connection to class materials. Students are also required to email the professor a draft of their presentation by 11:59 pm on the Tuesday of the week they are presenting to allow time for potential revisions. Failure to do so will result in a 10 point deduction. Please have a device capable of accepting either a vga or hdmi connection if you are going to be using the in-class projector.

Podcast Project (110)

As a final exam, students will complete a Podcast recording that translates the academic knowledge learned in class to a non-academic audience. These class engagements should curate, condense, and present class ideas in an accessible but informed way. While the specific topic is up to the student, each engagement should draw directly from at least 4 materials posted in the modules and one additional source from outside the class.

Students should not attempt to represent every detail presented in materials, but craft a topic of interest to themselves. Students may work together on the podcast, but then they will need to lengthen their podcast accordingly. The outline and final should be uploaded to the relevant Canvas assignment pages before or on their assigned due date. 

Expectation for Outline (40 points) Due 

  • Description of theme or topic 
    • What is your focus? (10)
  • Sources you will utilize 
    • What four sources from class will you engage with? (20)
    • What source(s) from outside class will you use? (5)
    • What audio samples from class content (e.g. videos) or beyond will you include? (5)


Expectations for Podcast (70 points)

  • Length (15)
    • 10-20 min per student involved 
  • Theme/Topic (7)
  • Four sources from class cited in context (20)
  • One source from outside class cited in context (3)
  • Communication of course ideas (7)
  • Additional materials from class or beyond (5) 
    • Audio samples from class content or beyond 
  • Organization (5)
    • Tells a narrative or weaves together the information in logical/compelling way 
  • Highlights Key Points (5)
    • Using repetition or other narrative techniques 
  • Minimizes Distractions (3)
    • Avoids background/distracting audio


COVID-19 Resources



Technology Access and Support

Student Technology Loan Program is dedicated to increasing accessibility and ensuring student success. Students can make a reservation for a full quarter laptop or tablet through our website: stlp.uw.edu (http://stlp.uw.edu/) .

If you would like to learn more about using Zoom, one resource is: https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/digital-learning/uw-zoom-helpful-guide-students



Writing Resources

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers students, staff, and faculty at UW free online tutoring sessions for any writing or research project, as well as for personal projects such as applications or cover letters and resumes. Their tutors and librarians are trained to collaborate at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to making final revisions and tying up loose ends. For more information, or to schedule an appointment (more than 500 available per week!), please see their website (http://depts.washington.edu/owrcLinks to an external site.).


Religious Accommodation

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Faculty Syllabus Guidelines and Resources. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form available at https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/. <https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/>


Policies on Conduct

The University of Washington is committed to fostering an environment where the free exchange of ideas is an integral part of the academic learning environment. Disruption or domination of discussions can prohibit other students from fully engaging and participating. Any student causing disruption may be asked to step away from that class activity, and, depending on the severity and frequency of that behavior, an incident report may be filed with Community Standards and Student Conduct. As a condition of enrollment, all students assume responsibility to observe standards of conduct that will contribute to the pursuit of academic goals and to the welfare of the academic community. For more detailed information on these standards, please visit this page (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=478-120Links to an external site.).

Academic misconduct

University of Washington students are expected to practice high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity. It is important to know and understand the expectations of the University and your instructors regarding academic standards. This is especially relevant to the use of technology and online resources available today. Artificial Intelligence (AI) content generators, such as ChatGPT, present opportunities that can contribute to your learning and academic work. However, using these technologies may also violate academic standards of the University. Under the Student Conduct Code, cheating includes the unauthorized use of assistance, including technology, in completing assignments or exams. While some instructors may encourage you to utilize technology to enhance your learning experience, other instructors may prefer that you do your own work without seeking outside help. It is your responsibility to read the syllabus for each course you take so that you understand the particular expectations of each of your instructors. If you are unsure of expectations, you are encouraged to ask for clarification before you use specific resources in completing assignments.

Cheating may also include the use of tutoring websites such as Chegg and Course Hero. These resources can be helpful in studying and preparing for exams, but copying material from these resources violates the University’s academic standards. Posting or submitting course content to these websites may also violate expectations outlined in your course syllabi. It is your responsibility to understand expectations, and again, ask for clarification before you choose to use tutoring resources.

As defined in Student Governance Policy, Chapter 209 Section 7.CLinks to an external site., academic misconduct includes:

  • Cheating
  • Falsification
  • Plagiarism
  • Unauthorized collaboration
  • Engaging in prohibited behavior
  • Submitting the same work for separate courses without the permission of the instructor(s)
  • Taking deliberate action to destroy or damage another person’s academic work
  • Recording and/or disseminating instructional content without the permission of the instructor (unless approved as a disability accommodation)

See Section 7.CLinks to an external site. for more detailed information and definitions of academic misconduct.

It is important to know and understand the expectations of the University and your specific instructors regarding academic standards. If an instructor suspects you of academic misconduct, they will submit a report to the School or College you are enrolled in at the time of the alleged misconduct. Each School or College has a designated person to act on behalf of the Dean of the School or College to address academic misconduct. More information about the student conduct process can be found hereLinks to an external site..

Please contact Community Standards & Student Conduct at 206-685-6194 or cssc@uw.edufor more information about academic misconduct.

Catalog Description:
Explores topics in literature and cultures of the ancient and medieval worlds across national and regional cultures, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.
Department Requirements Met:
Literature Core
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
April 10, 2024 - 7:15 am